The Work/Life Balance Fallacy

When we were children, time didn’t occur to us. All our activities fit perfectly into the day. Unless the sun was going to bed, our time seemed endless, wistfully passing by.

Our parents dealt with our schedules, moving and shifting around hockey practices with dentist appointments. Our lives were handled in their responsible care and we were blissful.

Soon after, we matured into self-sustaining adults with our own work schedules and responsibilities. We began to focus on time; trying to fit all the minutiae tightly in.

Then, we became obsessed with time. We became obsessed with balance. It seems that most of us endlessly sought a balanced life.

However, the ‘balanced life’ does not exist.

One of life’s biggest lies is the notion of a balanced life. Nothing ever achieves absolute balance. Nothing.

Between professional and personal life, striving for that perfect balance is most peoples’ mislead goal that they find attainable without ever stopping to truly consider it.

This is tough to believe mainly because one of the most frequent mantras for what is missing in most lives is, ‘I need more balance.’ We hear about balance so much that we automatically assume it’s exactly what we should seek.

It’s not.

We should be seeking purpose, significance, and happiness, the qualities that persist in a successful life.

Seek those important qualities and you will more than likely live a life out of balance, crisscrossing an invisible middle line as you pursue those qualities.

Think of balance as the middle line, and out of balance when we’re away from it. Get too far and we’re now living in the extremes.

The persistent problem with the middle is that it prevents us from making extraordinary time commitments to anything. Stay here too long and our lives will grow stale and ordinary.

Stray away from the middle and we could get reckless, marginally living a terribly hard life, devoid of relationships, fond memories and love.

Knowing when to pursue the middle and the extremes is true knowledge. Results are achieved with perfect negotiation with your time.

The reason we should never pursue absolute balance is because the magic never happens in the middle.

Magic happens at the extremes.

The extremes are where we are truly tested in will and guts. Our strengths are galvanized towards a lifelong dream. We naturally understand that success lies at the outer edges, but we don’t know how to manage our lives when we’re out venturing.

When we work too long, our personal life suffers. We unfairly blame work when we say, ‘I have no life.’ Even when work doesn’t pose a threat, our personal lives can be filled with endless ‘have-tos’ that we, once again, reach the same conclusion, ‘I have no life.’

When we get bombarded by both sides – professional and personal – we face an imminent breakdown and once again proclaim, ‘I have no life.’

Time waits for no one.

If we stray too far to the extremes, chasing our professional lives, we forget to cherish the middle, the simple.

Sometimes our work schedules become overwhelming, but our belief is that if we work hard now, we can enjoy the fruits of labor later.

Push something to an extreme and postponement can become permanent.

We seem to believe that we can make up for lost time.

But do we really think that we can get back a child’s birthday or bedtime story? Is a party for a five-year old with imaginary friends the same as a dinner with a teenager with high-school friends?

In Click, Adam Sandler has an epiphany before death where he says, ‘family first.’ Realizing all the time he spent at work instead of with his family, gave him his biggest regret.

He couldn’t make up for lost time. He couldn’t find balance.

Time on one thing means time away from another. This makes balance impossible.

Finding the right amount is essential to our personal and professional lives. Through careful deliberation of our activities, we can slowly understand where our time is best spent.

We have to spend our time on what matters most to us, instead of scrambling with minutiae. We have to accept the fact that not everything can get done in our days, weeks, months, years, and lives.

We need to realize where our true passions and priorities lie in life. We need to separate all the important activities from the things we think are important.

Professional and personal success are measured equally. If we do not treat bodies with respect, our families and friends with respect, we suffer immeasurable in the latter.

If we do not achieve professional success, we feel defeated and depressed, bringing those feelings into our personal lives.

We must crisscross the invisible line, while simultaneously chasing purpose, significance, and happiness.

We must spend a little extra time sharing memories with our families and friends and being mindful of ourselves – our bodies and minds.

We must also focus on our professional goals by working our hardest – but not longest – and giving our entire being in that singular moment.

Balance cannot be achieved.

The art of counter-balancing is a more realistic goal. With everything that we do in our professional life, equal time must be spent in our personal lives, and vice versa.

When I die, I want to have the shortest list of regrets possible. With that in mind, making sure to be mindful of my body, treasuring my relationships and chasing professional success are goals, which are strived for equally.

Until next time, my beautiful readers,

Be bold, be free, and love on.

Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff
Symbol of scales is made of stones on the cliff

The Recalibration Technique

Habits control every aspect of our entire lives. What time we wake up in the morning to what we consume daily to whether or not we binge eat those cookies are all governed by habits.

What is a habit?

A habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

As we continually do the same activities every day, our brain becomes accustomed to the same stimulation. It forms strong neural connections, which makes the activity easier and easier to occur.

Eventually, our brain conducts itself automatically. It chooses to take the shortest, simplest path to immediate gratification.

Binge eating cookies is just an automatic habit because our brain knows we love cookies. Smoking cigarettes when we’re stressed are automatic patterns that our brains use because at one time we used cigarettes to cope with stress.

Building strong effective habits are the foundation for a stable healthy lifestyle. But today, we’re not going to focus on my unhealthy addiction to cookies or someone’s unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Instead, let’s talk about the Recalibration Technique

Everyone has goals and aspirations that they want to achieve. We have dreams that garner all our attention and energy but over time we dwindle, until our dream is left stranded.

But when was the last time we sat down and consciously thought and put purposeful energy towards our purpose?

From time to time it’s worthwhile to stop and take stock of our lives. But it seems we only do this practice towards the beginning or end of a year.

To deepen our understanding of our purpose we must first learn lessons from the past and move with purposeful action towards the future. We must continue to refocus our lives and slowly build clarity of our purpose.

The Recalibration Technique provides a framework to build focus and clarity. Through these two simple questions that we developed, we are able to recalibrate our minds when we falter.

1) Am I purposefully using my time and energy towards my dream?

With the constant hustle of life, it can be hard to focus on our purpose and ourselves. We get lost in the fast lane, as life passes us by.

We should ask ourselves this question to refocus our life and make small steps towards our passions. Aim to move towards your goal by just 1% each week.

If you want to write a book, write just one paragraph (or page) a day. If you want to paint a masterpiece, just do a few strokes a day. If you want to learn, sing, or act, just make some small moves by reading, humming or roleplaying every day.

Every day is a new day to move closer to your dreams. Use it appropriately.

Without a clear understanding of where our lives are heading and when we will achieve it, we are just wasting our most precious resource – energy.

2) Where can I expend less energy to spend more on my dream?

Everyday we are constantly bombarded with mind-numbing tasks. People want our energy and time and we allow them to steal it without batting an eyelash.

Refocus your spare time and energy towards your goal. Ask yourself where you frequently compromise your time. Where do you frequently consume negativity because you feel like you are stuck in a situation?

We are never stuck in any situation. We choose to be in the current situation through our mindsets and perceptions.

Which situation or action can we desist to pursue more purposeful actions towards our happiness and dream? When can we say a resounding ‘No’ to the negative energy, people and situations in our lives to pursue the positive counterparts?

Your choices and decisions make up whom you are. Chose them wisely.

Here is your mission if you choose to accept it:

Ask yourself these two simple questions once a week and slowly move towards once a day. Take some time, find a quiet spot and write or type your way through the answers.

The Recalibration Technique is intended to help you live with greater purpose and more passion. As the habit is solidified, your brain will constantly refocus your life and will take the shortest, easiest path towards it.

Until next time, my beautiful readers,

Be bold, be free and love on.

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